By Sam Barron
It was a special Friday at RJ Bailey School in Greenburgh.
Students and faculty gathered for Reach for the Stars: A Tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen as part of its African American History Program in honor of Black History Month.
The event featured singing, dancing, and videos showing the positive impact black people have had on society and culture. In a video, teachers named Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Don Cornelius as black people that inspired them.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the focus of the assembly. The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black members of the military that flew planes in World War II. Despite being discriminated against and flying with dilapidated equipment, the men flew with distinction and were later honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen was told in the movie Red Tails which was released last month.
“When given the chance to fight the enemy, they rose to the challenge,” Quincy Wright said. “They distinguished themselves with valor.”
Frank Critton, a teacher at RJ Bailey, talked about his grandfather, who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Carol Williams, a sixth grade teacher, said the story of the Tuskegee Airmen should inspire and motivate the students.
“No matter what obstacles you face, continue to reach for the stars,” Williams said.
Williams later led the student body in singing R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly.
Principal Marguerite Clarkson said the assembly was fantastic and that it is important to celebrate Black History Month.
“We are celebrating the heritage of these kids,” Clarkson said. “Many of our families have roots in the Civil Rights movement. It’s important to remember their contributions. It’s a rich tradition.”
Clarkson said she enjoyed seeing many of the kids onstage singing, dancing and reading poetry.
“The arts keeps kids wanting to come to school,” Clarkson said. “There is so much emphasis on test taking and this is a reminder of the joy in learning. This helps make them life long learners.”